The Heart's Journey Home
by Nikki Jackson
Nikki Jackson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. Those locations may be found here.
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Nikki Jackson. Welcome Nikki! I'm so happy to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Nikki: I could say I’m Black, female and I have gray hair in my dreadlocks, but all of that is boring. What I’d really like to share is that I’ve spent the better part of my life dreaming about being a writer and now I am. I was just eight years old when it struck me. I was a regular little Black kid living in metro-Detroit. I had just finished reading the first book series I ever read – The Boxcar Children and I had an epiphany. This crystallized moment came upon me and I literally stood up in the bedroom I shared with my sisters and announced for the world to hear – “I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.” Though my life has taken many roads, twists and turns, that yearning never left my soul. I would think about it every now and then and just as quickly life would appear and distract me. I got to the place where I said to myself – “write the blasted book or put it out of your mind forever.” Once I started thinking seriously about writing and talking to myself about what I’d like to write, the book pretty much came to me.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Nikki: I have a number of favorite scenes, the hazard of being the author of the book. One scene I particularly like is the scene where Tori realizes a really tough truth about her father. I’m not going to be too explicit in case someone reading this hasn’t come to the scene but it’s probably the pivotal scene in the book because it challenges this whole story she’d built in her head concerning her father and it crumbles, and she’s devastated. Yet, isn’t this part of the journey all of us traverse as teens? Coming to the stark, painful realization that our parents are mere humans? That on their best day they’re still flawed. They can lie to us for the best and most honorable of reasons. They can hide things from us to protect us. They can bitterly disappoint us. It’s tough when we learn that mom or dad isn’t really all that different from us. The challenge for Tori is the same challenge we’re all faced with – now what? How do I go forward in the relationship after this revelation? You’ll have to read the story to see how Tori handles it.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for The Heart’s Journey Home?
Nikki: Hanging around teenagers. They will infect you like the plague. The church I attend is large and multi-cultural so there’s Black teens and White teens and Hispanic teens and a host of other kids who attend. Some are fairly straight-laced while others are pierced and tatted with hair color I’ve never seen before. I love it. That’s when I decided I wanted my first book to be about the relationship between a group of teens. After that the rest was easy. I think I was watching something on TV that had teens in it and all of a sudden I saw my book – the story of it, literally in my head. I pretty much just wrote it the way I saw it.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Nikki: Book two of the series – A Layover in Doppelganger-ville. I thought I would take a break before starting the second book but I missed the characters so it was a short break. Though I’m still trying to market the current book I find working on book two is really refreshing. The book deals with the main character Tori being in a situation that she doesn’t have much control over. Anyone who’s read the first book knows Tori is very independent and prides herself on being able to take care of herself with little to no interference from adults. She’s made a habit of not depending on adults too much, but that’s mostly been because her dad travels a lot leaving her behind. Because of circumstances that occur outside her control her independent ways are more of a hindrance now than a help, and they can even be dangerous for her. The question is - can Tori adapt to this new situation without causing harm to herself or to others?
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Nikki: I have to laugh because having no routine is likely my best routine. I write everywhere. I hang out at Panera Bread and write there. When I want to do some marathon writing I check into a hotel – literally. A good portion of The Heart’s Journey Home was written at LaQuinta Inn. I worked on the book during the 20 hours of flying it took to get to Thailand, the nearly 6 hours it took to get to Peru and the nearly 9 hour drive to New York (and then I was still writing while doing missions in these areas). I write longhand and then type it on my laptop so writing under these varied conditions wasn’t a problem. I try to get to work a half hour early, and I eat lunch at my desk so there’s another hour of writing time. I just find the time where I can and make the time when I’m feeling I’m getting a little behind. If I’ve learned anything I’ve learned to be flexible. It’s tough to be a writer when you work full-time and you’re married and you have all these ‘adult’ responsibilities. I find you really have to want this or you’re never going to complete your book.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Nikki: I did tons of research for this book. It’s a bit over 700 pages and it’s chocked full of good stuff. I’m not kidding you, it took nearly a year just to do the research alone. Granted, by definition fiction means you’re making the story up, but you can’t make up the facts. As the writer you owe it to the reader to not insult their intelligence by being slopping with details or writing events out of sequence. The Heart’s Journey Home takes place in 2009 so I had to be careful not to write any post-2009 things in the book. That wasn’t as easy as one might think – these teens had to have 2009 phones, computers, cars, TV programs and movies. They couldn’t listen to any music that was post-2009 (regardless of how much I might like Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off). The movie business has this word – continuity. It means that the placement of objects and things have to be consistent through-out the story unless the viewer actually sees something being moved or changed. I feel there’s a continuity in writing a book. Sure it’s fiction and you’re making the story up but there’s the continuity of the shared universe that exists between the person reading the story and the story itself and that can’t be made up. The reader expects to see factual history within a contemporary story.
As far as fascinating facts, Tori was spending a week with her grandmother and part of that would involve meeting her grandmother’s old sorority sisters. The grandmother is Black so I was looking for a Black sorority that the grandmother would have been a member of. That’s when I stumbled across a military drill sorority called the Pershing Angels. I’d never heard of a drill sorority before – a sorority where the members actually performed military drills, you know, drills that are done with rifles. I thought that was really cool and it would be a fun thing to have in a grandmother’s background so I wrote it into the story. I even wrote a scene where all these old ladies get together with their fake rifles and actually perform some old drills. That’s the great hidden gem about research, you can stumble upon something that adds flavor to your story.
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Nikki: Though the majority of his stuff scares the crap out of me I would have to say Stephen King. If I could choose a writer’s career I would choose his. And if I could pick any writer to co-write a book with it would definitely be King. We’d just have to agree to do something non-scary. What I love about King is his versatility and longevity. My two favorite works of his are The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, two non-scary movies. I just love the way he sets up his stories, the characters, even the setting seems to move and pulse with a life that interconnects with the story. I also love how full range he is – books, movies, TV and he’s still going strong. I envy his career and I’m encouraged also. Writers like anyone else should strive to be the very best they can be at their craft and we also need writers whose careers we admire to encourage us.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Nikki: I’m mulling over a sci-fi series. Teens and aliens, how about that?
It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from High School with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.
Tori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by - especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs. Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons. During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored Summer Camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.
With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.
But while Tori is determined to be independent, life has other plans for this fierce young woman, and they include coming to grips with some hard - and surprising - truths about both her past and her future.
GENRE: Young Adult
Amazon Buy Link
Tori was on Mitchell’s back, her right arm around his neck. As he flailed about trying to get loose, they rolled over which allowed Tori to cinch her choking arm under Mitchell’s chin. She clasped her left hand in her right and applied more pressure to his neck.
While he fruitlessly struggled she moved her left leg over his chest, then moved her right over the left shin locking her legs in place. Mitchell rocked helpless back and forth, but he couldn’t get loose.
The crowd was yelling instructions to Mitchell and to Tori. She bent her mouth close to his ear.
“Your choice Mickey.” she whispered loud enough for only him to hear. “I’m not gonna make you tap out in front of everybody, just blink your eyes.” she said. “Blink’em quick, outside of that you’re going to sleep.”
Mitchell felt his head getting foggy and he started seeing stars. He was grabbing madly with his hands but he couldn’t get himself free. He was starting to lose consciousness and he knew it. He would never be able to live down being choked out by a skinny girl. His life would be ruined!
While he still could he blinked his eyes with everything in him and he felt the hold loosening. With his last ounce of strength he rolled over shoving Tori hard, as far away as he could, gasping for breath as he came to his feet.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ever since she was young, Nikki Jackson has loved reading and the way that books allow you to journey on wonderful adventures without ever leaving the comfort of home. She decided at a young age that she wanted to become a writer to enable others to experience the magic of books—and The Heart’s Journey Home is the result.
In addition to writing, Nikki Jackson is a contract worker for General Motors. She and her husband currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area.
The Heart’s Journey Home Blog is currently under construction and will be online soon.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/journey4home
a Rafflecopter giveaway